As we began talking about editorial content we could publish to celebrate the release of Hail, Caesar!, the latest film from Joel and Ethan Coen, we realized that none of us had the same top five lists, and that it seems unusual for that to be the case. The Coens have had such a rich and varied career that it is impossible to pin them down to one style or one theme or one type of storytelling.
Some people love their comedies. Some people love it when they get dark. Some people love the underdogs, the least-liked of their films. But what's clear is that every film they've made has its fans, and even their worst films are beloved by someone.
There are few artists like the Coen Brothers, and we were delighted to get lists from each of our special guest contributors this time. The diversity of the replies says quite a bit about the people responding, making the Coens something of a cinematic litmus test.
So play along and tell us your own favorite Coen Bros. films in the comments below.
Damon Lindelof, writer/producer (Lost, The Leftovers)
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Clooney at his best in a movie that is, for all intents and purposes, a musical. I played this soundtrack non-stop for close to a year and would (attempt to) sing the harmonies to “Down To The River To Pray” in my car. I'm told my singing is “charming” and also “abrasive.” The best adaptation of The Odyssey that will ever be, I reckon.
The Big Lebowski
Do you know the title of Autobahn's album? I do. It's “Nagelbett.” It means “bed of nails.” This is the kind of detail that separates good from great. Also, the funniest movie in any Coen movie is here when the Dude jumps up and uses the pencil to reveal what Jackie Treehorn was drawing while on his telephone call. Also, I hate Malibu and this movie is why.
The hero”s name is “Hi.” When the kid writes “fart” on the wall. John Goodman emerging from the mud, screaming. The most flawless use of voiceover in the modern age of cinema. The Coens” best love story. A masterpiece.
Inside Llewyn Davis
This is the one a decade from now that will finally be appreciated for its true brilliance. That cat, man. That cat.